Parliament of AustraliaFederation Chamber - London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism
16 May 2013
[my own emphasis added - SL]
Mr SLIPPER (Fisher) (09:45): There are many evils in our society, but there is no evil greater than anti-Semitism. I was interested to read in the Australian today that Professor Rees of the Sydney Peace Foundation, who is on the staff of the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, which supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement that explicitly equates Israel with apartheid-era South Africa, attacked the Prime Minister and others for their opposition to the position that he takes. I call on the university to sack Professor Rees because in our society what we need is tolerance, understanding of diversity and respect for individual religious convictions. It is incredibly wonderful that the Prime Minister of this nation, the honourable member for Kooyong and so many other members of parliament have chosen to sign a document supporting the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism.
Regrettably, in three minutes one does not have time to read all of the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism, but it is a wonderful initiative. Around the world at the moment we are finding increasing anti-Semitic attacks. We are finding, increasingly, that people are opposing those of the Jewish faith. We only have to cast our minds backwards more than half a century ago to the Holocaust, when millions of Jewish people were murdered because of their religion and ethnicity. The fact that the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism is receiving such strong support from both sides of parliament indicates that there are values that unite members of this parliament, and values that unite our society. Professor Rees, from the Sydney Peace Foundation, is out of step with values that this parliament represents.
Professor Rees is un-Australian. His views are absolutely despicable and, in fact, the university ought not to be wasting public money paying a person who has such odious views and who supports anti-Semitism. He is, in my view, someone who has no place on the public payroll. All Australians should abhor what he has said, and I believe that members should sign this declaration. I have visited Israel five times—most recently as Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is a wonderful country, a tolerant country, and I think all of us should stand up against the evils of anti-Semitism.